(OfficialWire) -- The Qatari petrochemicals industry continues its inexorable rise to becoming a major supplier to the world market. But BMI's latest Qatar Petrochemicals Report warns that the global economic downturn has delayed some major projects by up to two years.
Qatar's policy of economic diversification has led to a surge in investment in projects for the export of petrochemicals. In 2009, Qatar had ethylene capacity of 2.6mn tonnes per annum (tpa) feeding downstream units that included 400,000tpa low-density polyethylene (LDPE) and 450,000tpa high density polyethylene (HDPE). By 2015, it should have ramped up capacities with olefins capacities including 6.25mn tpa ethylene and 900,000tpa propylene, feeding downstream units providing 1.6mn of polyethylene (PE) capacity, 700,000tpa of polypropylene (PP) and 220,000tpa of polystyrene (PS). Qatar will represent 30% of the increase in the GCC's total cracker capacity between 2009 and 2015.
Notably, Qatar Petroleum's subsidiary Qatar Intermediate Industries Holdings and South Korea's Honam Petrochemical announced that their 70:30 US$2.6bn petrochemical joint venture (JV) planned for Mesaieed would be delayed from its original date of 2011 to 2013, leaving many wondering whether it would ever be built. In July 2009, the partners indicated that they would not only revive the project but also enlarge it, adding a 700,000tpa EG plant and increasing the capacity of the mixed xylenes unit from the original 120,000tpa to 600,000tpa. Planned ethylene capacity was also raised from the original 900,000tpa to 1.05mn tpa. Other capacities will follow the original plan, including 700,000tpa PP, 600,000tpa styrene and 220,000tpa PS. BMI forecasts that the QP-Honam JV will probably come onstream in 2014.
Qatar remains in second place in the petrochemicals rankings for Middle East and Africa with 62.7 points, down 1.5 points since the previous quarter due to delays in capacity expansion. This puts it 4.1 points ahead of Kuwait and 11.6 points behind Saudi Arabia.